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Suspect Arrested in Mouseketeer's Death

Daniel James Burda had done odd jobs for Dennis Day and his husband
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2019 11:00 AM CDT
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Daniel James Burda.   (Jackson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Newser) – A man was arrested Friday in the death of a former Mouseketeer who was missing for nearly a year before police announced last month that his body had been found in April in his Oregon home. It remains unclear why the body of Dennis Day, 76, wasn't found on previous searches of the property, CNN reports; it had been searched at least twice prior to the body being found with the help of a cadaver dog. Daniel James Burda, 36, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, abuse of a corpse, criminal mistreatment, and identity theft, per the Oregon State Police. Last month, two women were also arrested on suspicion of stealing Day's 1996 Ford Escort less than a week after Day was last seen; one of them is also accused of stealing and selling a brooch from Day's home.

Local police and a friend of Day and his husband, Henry "Ernie" Caswell, tell the Oregonian that Burda had worked as a handyman for the couple at their Phoenix home, where Day's body was eventually found. The sources say that, starting around May of last year, Burda sometimes stayed at the home in exchange for doing yardwork and other chores. Caswell reported Day missing last July, after Caswell was admitted to the hospital following a series of falls (he now lives in an assisted living facility). He told police Day hadn't liked having Burda in their home. Burda has an extensive criminal history, including charges for sodomy, robbery, and assault, and he was originally booked into jail on a probation violation connected to an unrelated 2018 third-degree robbery conviction. Police also say he uses meth. (Read more murder stories.)

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